Nancy, my eldest, turned 9 yesterday and faced with Lockdown restricted celebrations for the girl who talks about her birthday from the very day after her last one, I wasn’t sure how she would feel about it all. This said, she is also the most understanding little creature and would honestly be happy with anything, but not being able to see all our family would be difficult for her.
I was at the Supermarket the day before, buying cake ingredients and nibbly foods and saw a big bucket of Gypsophila. Instantly I knew I had to incorporate it into the decorations and from the point of the idea, it was really quite simple.
Decorating the table area in the kitchen is my most favourite way of making a meal, a day, a celebration, something extra special. It has a big impact but is actually so simple and cheap to do.
I’ve used a hoop above the table so many times over years, these Beech hoops, which I sell at the Alice in Scandiland Shop, are a beautiful design detail on their own. Nancy has one on the wall in her room, but what’s even better is that they can be borrowed and styled up, to create a wonderful centre piece.
All you need is –
- A hoop – I’ve used a 60cm hoop here, but you can play around with the size, find what suits your space. You can buy this Beech hoop here (if they’re all sold out then more will be on the way), you can also make your own with woven Willow, small thin branches etc.
- Some wire. I use this Oasis Bindwire quite a bit for various crafts and jobs at the shop.
- Your choice of foliage. At Christmas I usually use Eucalyptus, but really the theory is the same for almost all natural materials you use. Try Bracken, dried grasses, thin, bendable branches with beautiful Autumnal coloured leaves…
- 3 lengths of cord to hang the hoop.
It’s up to you whether you want to add the cord to hang the hoop before or after adding the greenery. I’ve used this hoop multiple times for several years, so the leather cord you see here was already attached. It’s easy enough to work around it.
In this instance divide your chosen flower/ foliage into individual stems, I find it helpful to arrange in piles of similar lengthed stems and pre-cut some pieces of wire. It’s better to go a little longer than you think with the wire, so things aren’t too fidly. It also depends on the thickness of your hoop.
With the Gypsophila each stem already provides a little posy of flowers. I start with the longer lengthed stems, securing onto the hoop where the thinner stems with flowers become thicker. I then lay another stem of Gypsophila, on top of that, but a little further around the hoop, securing that one in the same way, but making sure the wire wraps around the previous stem also. Does that make sense?!
If using flowers which are a single stem/ single flower, then it’s better to create a little posy of multiples and secure these to the hoop, otherwise it could end up looking too sparse.
Once you’ve created your base covering of the hoop, I prefer to hang it up in place and then add in, once I can see how it’s going to look.
We already have a hook above our dining table, because we’ve swagged the light over to be in the position we want. If you don’t have this, I would really encourage you to add a hook anyway, because I hang things here all the time, throughout the year, for different occasions.
I use an elastic band, bound around the 3 cords, to bring them together for hanging, as opposed to a knot. This means, once up, you can gently pull out a bit of cord from one side or another, to level out the hoop if it doesn’t hang level. If tying a knot instead, you need to have it perfect before the knot is tied.
Once hung, it’s then so easy to add in stems here and there, to fill gappy bits, to bulk out, add height above or bring the arrangement down from the hoop, depending on how you look. The Gypsophila is such a great flower to use if you’re not confident with creating something like this, as the sprayed little blooms do so much of the work for you. Plus, it’s such a cheap option. I used about 6 bunches, which in total cost approximately £9.
The scene was set for the next morning, when Nancy would come down and discover this table of loveliness.
I’d even printed out some Mer Mag / Merrilee Liddiard Paper Dolls, to keep the girls entertained when they inevitably got up super early. I had informed Nancy that birthdays don’t exist before 8:30am!
The big day…
I was so happy when I came down to daylight flooding in and this area looking beautiful. I’d gotten a bit carried away the night before and completely removed the gallery wall, but this was a change I knew was coming anyway. I’m really feeling the need to simplify the decor in our home at the moment and bring back some empty wall space.
Nancy was absolutely over the moon and was squealing with excitement all morning.
Apart from the Gypsophila, everything else you see here are things we already had and which get used time and time again. The Happy Birthday banner (I forget where I bought it) is about 6 years old and comes out every year. The Meri Meri Eco Party plates (from my shop), despite technically being throwaway items, get a wipe down and they’re good to go again. These white ones are on their third party, since the Easter Party they originated from.
After breakfast (Nancy had requested Greek Yoghurt with Raspberries + Pomegranate, with a side of Watermelon) we headed to Golitha Falls, to meet my mum for a walk. Another one of Nancy’s birthday requests.
My mum brought hot drinks and her delicious Lemon Muffins, still warm from the oven. It was so lovely to see her, even if we couldn’t hug or sit too close, I knew it would mean a lot to Nancy for her to be with us.
We sat by the raging river, a torrent of energy after so much rain recently. Quite the contrast to the last time we had been here, in Lockdown 1, when the girls and I had stripped down to our underwear and bathed in a calm, cooling pool.
It felt so good to switch off from all the troubles of life/ work and to slow things right down. Nancy and Eula were in their element. We were soaked by the rain, but it really didn’t matter.
On our way home in the car, with thoughts of toasting Marshmallows on the woodburner and stuffing our faces with S’mores, Nancy declared this her best birthday ever, saying it was all just so lovely and relaxing and we discussed how not having a full on party maybe suited us all better. Not having to worry about anyone else’s needs and likes was very freeing. It’s lovely to have friends over, but parties are so often a careful balancing act between enjoyment and fraught, uncomfortable energy. Well, maybe that’s just me and my feelings, but through no pressure it would seem Nancy has come to the same conclusion!
We’ll see what her feelings are about it next year, but this 2020 Lockdown 9 year old’s birthday was one of the loveliest days we’ve had possibly ever.
Tomorrow on the blog I’m going to be sharing my super simple secret behind how I decorate cakes. So pop back then for more about this little beauty and past cakes.
Whilst I have your attention, I wonder if you could do something for me please?…
I’m so excited as the Alice in Shop has been nominated in the Independent Awards for High Street Shop of the Year. It’s absolutely unbelievable and such an honour.
But I need your help, will you please vote for me?
First prize is an amazing cash injection, to help boost my business, to grow it, improve it and hopefully future proof it. This year has been one of, if not THE toughest for so many of us and as a small businesses owner, who’s high street shop has been closed for the best part of November, things are far from ok. Your vote would mean the world. Thank you.